Brits will be able to go on holiday to a new list of 75 countries without needing to quarantine when they return to the UK, according to new reports.
The news comes following the government ditching the plans to create ‘air bridges’, which were going to make travelling between two countries which have similarly low levels of coronavirus easier.
The full list of countries will be published by the government today or tomorrow, and will see the lifting of the Foreign Office’s ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations plus many others.
The 75 countries listed have been deemed sufficiently low-risk destinations for holidaymakers based on their COVID-19 levels, a declining infection rate and that their data can be trusted.
From Monday, travellers to 75 countries will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days when they return to the UK.
Instead, the air bridges will be replaced with a traffic light system which will decide which nations are safe, a move which has been massively welcomed by the travel and aviation industry.
‘Green’ or ‘Amber’ countries will not require 14 days isolation on returning to the UK, but ‘Red’ countries will.
Many popular holiday destinations will be found on the list, such as Croatia, Turkey, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Iceland, Poland, Malta, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Slovenia, Slovakia and Germany.
However, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has this week she reserved the right to quarantine English visitors. Likewise, Ireland is expected to publish its own ‘Green’ list of countries and has already indicated that Britons could be forced to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Some countries like Australia and New Zealand are expected to retain border controls and impose quarantine until the end of the year.
The USA, Russia and Brazil are among the list of ‘Red’ countries where non-essential travel will continue to be banned.
Sweden, which tops the tables in the EU for coronavirus cases, is expected to be classed as Red, as with Portugal due to a recent outbreak in and around the capital, Lisbon.
Despite this being welcomed by the travel industry, some government officials have claimed creating a specific list of countries exempt from quarantine poses a ‘diplomatic nightmare’ and could open ‘legal challenges’, according to The Telegraph.
These officials have proposed a list that expands on the Foreign Office’s travel advice to include high-risk countries where Britons should refrain from travelling to instead.
Henry Smith, chair of the cross-party Future of Aviation group, said: “This has been done in a very piecemeal way and with a degree of uncertainty. I still think the introduction of quarantine was not the right decision but we are where we are.
“We need to get a set of criteria and subsequent list of countries published. Every day of uncertainty translates into more jobs lost.”
What do you think, are you planning on travelling or waiting a little longer?
Travellers arriving in UK without negative Covid test fined £500 then let in anyway
Anyone arriving in the UK must now show a negative Covid test
The new rules for travellers came into effect at the start of the week, with people entering the UK now required to show proof of a negative Covid test.
But according to reports, some passengers have been turning up without a valid negative coronavirus test, and are being fined £500 each and allowed to enter the country by Border Force.
Speaking to the Mail Online, the Home Office confirmed that anyone who arrives without the necessary proof will be fined but still let into the country – although they are required to quarantine for ten days.
People have been facing two hour queues as they arrived into the country due to the new checks, although some passengers claimed there was a complete lack of social distancing.
Gabrielle Rivers, a research fellow at Oxford University, told The Times after arriving from Washington: “I don’t know how they would expect old people to cope. They are crowding people together in tight spaces. If we didn’t have Covid then, we will now. It was very rammed.”
Journalist Graeme Culliford, arriving from Dubai, added: “It took a while because of the queues at customs. I suspected they would not check for negative Covid tests but they did. They were very thorough in the end.
“There were a few altercations between passengers and border officials and at one point I heard one official say he’d fined three people £500 already for not having proof of a test.”
Following the government’s suspension of travel corridors, anyone arriving in the UK – including British citizens – must now have a negative test and quarantine on arrival.
These measures were brought in to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants, including the ones that have originated in South African and Brazil.
Spain’s new tourism plan will let Brits holiday without restrictions in a matter of months
Spain has revealed when it will be reopening to British holidaymakers with restriction-free travel.
In a bid to boost tourism and welcome tourists back to Spain the country has launched a campaign that should reassure travellers it’s safe to visit.
Currently, Spain remains off the UK travel corridor list meaning arrivals from the country will have to self-isolate on entry to Britain (excluding the Canary Islands).
Visitors must present a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours on arrival to enter the country.
The latest €2 million campaign hopes to welcome visitors without restrictions by the end of March, reports the MEN.
There will be a daily updated ‘Travel Safe’ section on the spain.info website which will have measures in individual regions including, for example, restaurant capacities.
The Turespaña strategy will continue while coronavirus restrictions remain, already welcome in popular destinations including Menorca and Ibiza.
The Balearic Islands are expected to be the first to welcome restriction-free travel. The Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, told local media: “First of all, however, there is the task of positioning, selling and explaining to the world that the islands are a safe destination.”
See the Covid-19 measures in Spain here.
Manchester Airport opens brand new Covid-19 testing facility for passengers
It’s set to make travel easier.
Manchester Airport has launched a new Covid-19 testing facility today, as part of a move by its parent company the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in partnership with travel medical provider Collinson.
This means the full range of tests – RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Antigen and Antibody – will be available to all passengers in a brand new facility just outside of the main terminal building.
MAG has also become the first operator to give passengers the chance to book discounted pre-flight testing appointments on the high street, at selected Boots stores in the UK.
The news means passengers using Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports will be given maximum flexibility when planning their trips, and comes in the week that the UK Government lifts England’s international travel ban.
Certain governments currently allow pre-departure tests in order to shorten or completely alleviate quarantine requirements in the destination country, while others require them in order to gain entry.
Passengers will also now be able to book any tests they need to shorten their self-isolation period upon return under the UK Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.
The scheme, announced last week, will launch on December 15th and allows travellers arriving from higher risk countries to reduce their period of quarantine by taking a test five days after they arrive in the UK.
‘Test to Release’ follows in the footsteps of a number of countries who are already offering quarantine-free inbound travel to those able to provide evidence of a negative test.
Boots offers an in-store RT-PCR Covid-19 testing service – which returns results within 48 hours – from more than 50 stores across the UK, specifically for customers who do not suspect they have Covid-19.
MAG passengers will be able to access a 5% discount, which customers can access through the airport’s website.
Airport testing prices through Collinson start at £40 for Antibody tests, £50 for Antigen tests, £79 for RT-LAMP tests and £99 for RT-PCR tests.
Managing Director of Manchester Airport, Karen Smart, said: “As the UK emerges from a ban on international travel, we know our passengers are keen to start flying again, but that many of Manchester Airport’s most popular destinations, such as the Canary Islands, require a negative test before you arrive.
“This new facility will make the process of showing you’re infection-free when planning and booking a holiday as easy and cost-effective as possible in the current circumstances. Our new booking platform makes it easy to select the right test for your destination, and at the location that is most convenient for you.
“Located right by the terminal building means passengers can either opt for a test on the day of departure before they go through security, or visit in the run up to their journey at a time to suit them.
“This also means Manchester is perfectly placed to support the introduction of a UK arrivals testing regime, which will enable travellers to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate if they test negative after five days.
“This is the latest example of MAG leading the way as we look to work with Government and the rest of our industry to get Britain flying again.”